Dead on arrival

Over Her Dead Body

on February 02, 2008 by Wade Major
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Bad romantic comedies are a staple of the January/February release schedule, but this insipid, staggeringly dumb entry from New Line stoops to unprecedented new lows likely to stun even the most jaded cynic.

The debut directing effort from veteran sitcom writer Jeff Lowell, the film follows a predictably sitcom tack: Would-be bride Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) dies in a freak accident on her wedding day only to end up back on earth as a ghost, where she devotes all her newfound powers to stopping a young medium (Lake Bell) from seducing her former fiancé (Paul Rudd).

The obvious model here is Noel Coward’s brilliant Blithe Spirit, but the result feels more like half-baked, fourth-rate I Dream of Jeannie. Static staging, recycled sitcom gags, a hopelessly predictable plot and an embarrassing over-reliance on lowbrow slapstick are only the tip of the iceberg that starts sinking Lowell’s ship before it’s scarcely left the dock.

If Lowell himself seems too tied to his television roots, his lead actresses are positively anchored to theirs. Neither Longoria Parker, of Desperate Housewives fame, nor Bell, of Boston Legal and The Practice, is able to generate any kind of chemistry with Rudd, nor do they photograph that well for the big screen. The camera is particularly unkind to Bell, whose curiously proportioned facial features become more and more distracting as the film offers little else of interest to look at. Longoria Parker photographs relatively well but shows almost no versatility beyond merely rehashing the most shrill excesses of her television persona.

Only Rudd seems to generate any genuine sympathy, less for the predicament of his character than for his own real-life predicament as a supremely talented actor forced to lumber through yet another forgettable bomb. Everything else in Over Her Dead Body is DOA.

Distributor: New Line
Cast: Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Jason Biggs, Lindsay Sloane, Stephen Root
Director/Screenwriter: Jeff Lowell
Producers: Paul Brooks and Peter Safran
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: February 1, 2008

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